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Poetry lures faculty to Leo’s Den

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Poets gathered for an afternoon of celebrating the seasons through poetry in Leo’s Den to mark the beginning of poetry month on May 1.

University of La Verne professors and pastors from La Verne Church of the Brethren sat in a circle on the blue couches in Leo’s Den to read their favorite poems and to share some of their original poetry among their peers.

ULV faculty who were present included Professor of English William Cook, Theater Manager Elizabeth Pietrzak and Director of Writing Kirsten Ogden.

Also participating were pastors Janet Ober and Susan Boyer from La Verne Church of the Brethren.

Everyone respectfully listened to one another as poetry was read in the intimate setting.

The participants were comfortable together and appeared to be old friends from their constant laughter and friendly support.

The event, which was coordinated by Dylan Haro, the Campus Activities Board concert chairman, had the theme of “Seasons.”

“I enjoy poetry,” Haro said. “I selected the theme ‘Seasons’ because Dr. Cook mentioned in his class that the seasons are cycles and that spring is rebirth.”

Haro thought that since it is spring now and the semester is nearing an end, it would be good to have a rebirth to get students through until the end.

Pietrzak was the first to stand up and share her original poetry. She began with a series of dedications and went on to read a variety of her poems.

Her descriptive words had the small group laughing at the funny and sometimes dark themes of her poetry.

“It was a nice little intimate gathering,” Pietrzak said. “It’s nice to get together with colleagues and new people to share poetry.”

Veronica Estrada, who graduated from ULV in 2003, came to the poetry reading to listen to Pietrzak share her poetry.

“Beth is such an amazing poet,” Estrada said. “It’s a nice and refreshing break from life on a Thursday afternoon.”

Estrada was one of the many attendees who were pleased to spend their afternoon sharing poetry.

“I don’t know a better way to spend an afternoon,” Ogden said.

Ogden enthusiastically shared some of her favorite poetry with the group and even made copies of one she wanted everyone to have after the poetry session. Ogden shared a collection of poetry inspired by her idea to write an image everyday, which she asks her students to try to do.

Ober, a pastor at La Verne Church of the Brethren, enjoyed reading one of her favorite poems, “Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation,” by Wendell Berry, along with a few others.

“It was fun,” Ober said. “I love poetry. I’ve been reading [Berry] for twenty years.”

Ober said she was invited to the event by Haro, since she knows him from church and she was happy to attend the poetry reading.

Cook also shared a variety of poems. He hopes that poetry readings will become a ritual at the University because it is a common practice at many other schools.

“I hope they make a practice out of it,” Cook said. “You never find wisdom condensed the way you do in poetry.”

Cook could get his wish in the fall semester if CAB hosts more poetry readings. It would be an anticipated event for those who already came out to share their poetry.

Victoria Allende can be reached at

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